When removals giant Pickfords turned to PeoplePlus two years ago, they were – like many employers - facing a skills shortage within their business.

As the UK’s largest removals and storage company, they needed to fill vacancies within their removals operation, and make sure that the new talent coming into the business was equipped with the right skills and met their high standards of customer care.

The solution lay in our range of services, which integrate recruitment, employability and skills training to help national - and local - employers get the most from their workforce and drive productivity.

Working with us, Pickfords invested in an apprenticeship scheme to attract new talent and rolled out a dedicated learning and development programme called LEAP to enable current employees to gain a higher level of skills directly linked to demand from the business.

As a result, Pickfords has gone on to create opportunities for 25 apprentices within a range of roles including porters, drivers, team leaders and managers, and more than 50 employees are currently on the LEAP scheme, which was developed by us in conjunction with Pickfords.

The impact of the scheme

Mark Taylor, Network Director, Pickfords UK

The partnership with PeoplePlus has been an easy one to develop. In the beginning the team helped us to present the apprenticeship and LEAP scheme to our managers and staff, to get them on board, and understand the options open to them with the courses available.

PeoplePlus also assisted with the roll out of the LEAP scheme to all branches, and have project managed the programme throughout, including sourcing the candidates, conducting the face to face interviews and placing our apprentices in a variety of roles up and down the country.

I’m delighted to say that the apprenticeship programme is bringing real business benefits. By using the PeoplePlus’s recruitment service, we have saved costs and have sourced excellent candidates, who are bringing a fresh injection of talent into our established business operations. The scheme has offered young people the opportunity to take the first step in their careers, and we hope that many of our apprentices will be the managers of the future.

Alison Sheff, Operations Manager - Apprenticeships, PeoplePlus

The success of the partnership between Pickfords and PeoplePlus owes much to the amount of time that we both took to identify their specific business needs, as well as the flexibility that our service offers.

By understanding where Pickfords had a skills gap, we were able to cross reference these to our apprenticeship frameworks to identify which were most suitable. The individual qualification standards were also reviewed with Pickfords to ensure the correct units and pathways within each were used, based on business priorities and individual development needs.

If I had to say what sets PeoplePlus apart from our competitors, I’d say it’s the dedication of our team to source, screen and support apprentices and employers throughout the process. For the employer, the benefit is that they save money on recruitment and advertising, and have the ability to design and tailor our programmes to meet the specific business needs.

Since the roll-out of the LEAP programme, a Higher Management programme is now in development, and this will be an exciting addition at Pickfords.

Funnily enough, I started out life as an Apprentice, so I remember the start it gave me. I genuinely believe a majority of our learning comes after leaving school – adults should never stop learning and developing. Since the greatest asset of any business is its staff, looking after and developing them is essential!

With Pickfords, we’re lucky that we’re working with an employer that offers real career opportunities and progression and has such a genuine passion to support and develop its apprentices and staff."

Steven Winch, Head of Operations - Skills Division, PeoplePlus

Apprenticeships are a great way for employers to improve the productivity and quality of their workforce through on the job training and learning. Designed specifically around the occupational needs of a business, apprenticeships are a cost effective way to deliver skills for new employees and experienced staff encouraging loyalty to the company that invests in them.

I’m delighted that PeoplePlus is currently supporting more than 2180 apprentices across the UK, working with nearly 780 employers. Among some of our most popular frameworks are the NVQ Diploma in Business Improvement Techniques, BTEC Diploma in Team Leading and the BTEC Diploma in Management – which demonstrate the investment that businesses are making in developing their staff.

Pickfords is not alone in finding skilled staff in short supply. Last year, a CBI employer survey reported that for the first time, concerns about skills had overtaken employment regulation as the most significant threat to the UK’s workforce competitiveness. And yet over a third of companies said that they had done no training of their workforce in the last 12 months. At the same time, employers report that three in 10 vacancies are hard to fill because of a shortage of appropriate skills.

About PeoplePlus apprenticeships

Since 2010, we've been helping employers improve the productivity and quality of their workforce through on the job training and learning. Apprenticeships are for new and existing members of staff that are in need of development in order to achieve business goals. They are open to all aged 16 years and over and not in full-time education or currently undertaking any other funded training provision.

Click here to find out more about our apprenticeship programme.